I must keep it locked away—the memory of my darkest secret….
When the rising tides of my life peak, I’m left struggling with the currents of the storm. The first dilemma is my dad’s gambling debt. Mama bounces back quickly from the ramifications it causes. She proves this by getting a new man. Her Rico Suave is just the tip of the iceberg—she moves us across state to live with him and his two sons.
My outgoing, older sister fits right in—she’s the total opposite of me. I am Madison Guillory, the shy, quiet type. Taught to make the best of even the worst situations, I contemplate giving my new family a chance.
Living with my future stepbrothers is interesting, to say the least. They’re like night and day. I have more in common with the laid-back brother, and we become instant friends. I’m adjusting to Taylor High, and the arrogant brother is even starting to grow on me. Maybe everything will work out after all.
My life finally seems to be falling into place until a dreadful night shatters my dreams. My world is flipped upside down because of the consequences I must now bear.
The memories of that night lurk in the shadows to torment me. If I think of what happened, I’ll succumb to my fear. His face has scorned me. No one will believe me if I confess, not even my own sister. I hold the key to my darkest secret, desperate to keep it locked away.
My mind begins to wander in the quietness. A new home, city, and school—no friends. Deep in thought, my head snaps to attention when I hear a baritone voice coming into the kitchen. He’s singing, “That’s what I like” by Bruno Mars. My eyes bulge, swearing that he sounds better than Bruno himself.
When he catches sight of me, his tune cuts off abruptly, and his hazel eyes widen. It’s Jackson. He’s dressed more casually in warmup pants and a T-shirt. He must have skipped dinner, too. I swallow hard, assuming he’s going to call me sweet-cheeks again.
“Hi,” he finally says.
“Hey, Jackson.” Maybe if I play nice, he won’t tease me.
His warm hazel eyes twinkle. “I’m not Jackson. I am his brother.”
“Oh,” is all I can muster. This boy is just as tall. He has the same handsome face, lean figure, and muscular arms as Jackson. They’re identical! My mother failed to mention Regan had twin sons. We stare at each other. As I’m studying him, he appears to be researching me. I can’t get a read on his expression. Friendly, although I seem to have startled him. My body is surging with an electric warmth as we stare. I look away, refusing to admit I was ogling him. I shouldn’t feel too foolish. His gaze wasn’t brotherly, either.
Glancing at him quickly, I spy him still staring. “What?” It’s a rude comment—the word just spills out of my mouth. My impoliteness doesn’t seem to faze him. His lips curve upward. A dimple! A deep one forms in his left cheek. Well, that is one way to tell them apart.
He clears his throat, breaking eye contact. “Um … nothing. Sorry, I’m not used to a girl being in our house.”
“Hate to break it to you, but I’m being forced to live here now.” He chuckles. The sound of his laugh makes my stomach flutter. I don’t like it one bit.
“It’s not bad living here. Big house, great amenities—give it a chance.”
“The house is gigantic.” I shrug. “But Baton Rouge will always be home to me. It’s where I was born and have lived all my life.”
He nods in understanding. “Fair enough. I’m Justin, by the way.”
“Yeah, I met your obnoxious twin.”
He laughs again. “That would be my older brother, by only five minutes.”
Explaining my ogling, I say, “My mom forgot to tell us you and Jackson are twins.”
“Ah, that would account for the look on your face.”
I smirk at him, trying to hold in my smile.
“You must be Madison.”
“No, I haven’t met your sister yet. Your curls gave it away.”
My curls? “I don’t get your drift.” Justin opens the fridge, pulling out both trays. He stuffs more on his plate than I had.
“My dad told us the younger one, Madison, has a head full of curls.”
I remember the first time Tanya and I met Regan when he came to Baton Rouge. Self-consciously, I tug on a curl, yanking it straight. Once I release the piece, it springs right back into a spiral. My hair falls to my shoulders. I never do much to it because my curls are hard to tame.
A light sparkles in Justin’s hazel eyes. “Your hair is pretty.”
His admission surprises me. My stomach turns a cartwheel. Ugh! My manners intercept my irritation. Just because Justin’s making me uneasy doesn’t mean I shouldn’t thank him for complimenting me. “Thanks.”
“Do you dye it?”
I get asked this question often. It’s dominantly dark brown with natural highlights. “Um, no. Just born with two-toned colored hair.”
“The blondish highlights are quite unique.”
Okay, time to leave. Justin is charming and sings like an angel. I like the fact he’s making small talk—it lightens the mood. The problem is I shouldn’t be attracted to a boy who could possibly become my future stepbrother. “I’m gonna head upstairs.”
His forehead wrinkles. “Nice meeting you.”
After I clean my plate, I smile—or attempt to. I hurry away, because my cheeks are growing redder by the minute. I wish my complexion wasn’t such a light shade of brown. Even a blind person could see my blush.
I worry about my first impression on him. I’m sure I seemed ill-mannered. But in the short span of time talking to Justin, my palms became clammy and my body tingly. Two totally different reactions with the Jenkins’ twins. Jackson sorta got under my skin—Justin set me ablaze. This is just day one in Houston Texas.
What else will this city bring?
B. Truly has wanted to be an author since she was fifteen years old. She is grateful to have accomplished this dream. B. Truly has very vivid dreams and a wild imagination. She likes to read, watch tons of TV shows, and movies. She’s addicted to romance and gets a thrill out of suspense and sci-fi. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romance, sci-fi, dystopian, and paranormal genres.
B. Truly likes to explore conflicted plots of romance with thrilling twists. She also loves creating impossible situations for her characters to grow from and try to overcome.
B. Truly has three wonderful children, and a husband who defines the person that she is today. She works full-time as an Ultrasound technologist in Houston, Texas.
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